If you haven’t yet fished for spawn-run trout, then I suggest you firmly ink it, onto your bucket list! Most of our highland trout waters will host a spawn-run; however, the most productive (and famous river) would be the Eucumbene River and its tributaries. Depending on rainfall and river depth, masses of brown trout will push through the somewhat skinny stretches of this river in search of likely spawning haunts. It is quite a spectacle to watch a squadron of huge brown trout moving up stream; nonetheless, it’s even more enthralling to witness a huge brownie leaping from the rapids whilst connected to your line.
The majority of anglers who prospect the streams and rivers will target the trout on fly. The most conventional method is to use 6 weight fly rod & reel; although, more and more anglers are opting to use a spin rod to present their artificial flies. Using a spin rod for fly fishing is effective; however, my good friend Fabian Beroukas and I chose to spin with hard-bodied lures during our most recent trip to the high country – which resulted in amazing success!
My chosen combo for spinning the streams was the Black Label 701LXS (2-4kg) spin rod, and the very impressive 16 Certate 2506 spin reel. This is a very sexy combo; however, its work ethic supersedes its chiselled good looks. The BL701LXS had more than enough power to punch a lure into the wind, as well as boasting the muscle to steer a thrashing brown trout to shore. The High Volume Fibre graphite (HVF) blank in which the rod is constructed on is super light, and ultra-sensitive: which I believe is so important when lure fishing! Even though this stick boasts great power for a light-weight rod, it folds away nicely when loaded which provides a little cushioning during a torrid battle. The 16 Certate 2506 is just a magnificent piece work. It’s one of the most aesthetically appealing reels that Daiwa have produced in my belief, and boasts a rugged “work-horse” persona whilst staying in touch with its finesse side. It’s just the perfect reel for trout fishing, and complements the Black Label rods extremely well. The 16 Certate is Magsealed, which is handy when fishing the rivers and streams as your reel will accidently taste the water every now and then; however, it’s the silky smooth Automatic Tournament Drag (ATD) that appeals to me when fishing for trout. I encourage you to learn more about ATD via the Daiwa Website; although, I will say this – ATD reduces the pulsing on a reels drag washers which provides a smoother fight between angler and fish; plus, the new and improved grease used in ATD allows the drag to yield line freely during the initial hook-up, while slowly increasing to the original drag setting as the fish continues to steal line. This allows an angler to concentrate on angling the fish, rather than constantly adjusting the drag setting during an erratic battle.
Line Leader Lure
I ran 6lb Tournament 8 Braid Evo line with 6lb FC leader during our visit to the streams; however, I found that 6lb leader wasn’t enough at times. It can be difficult to stop a hot fish in fast running water, so I would recommend starting with 8lb, or even 10lb if there are a lot of anglers fishing in the same vicinity. You’ll need to knock your fish over quickly, so they don’t swim too far and hinder other anglers. You’ll get some dirty looks from fellow fishers if you allow the trout to dictate the terms of the fight and force other anglers to move out of your way as you chase your trout! Trust me on this…
All your traditional trout lures will work; however, my mate and I tasted success by cranking deep diving lures into the stony bottom strata and bouncing the lures over boulders and fallen logs. Yep…we got snagged regularly and lost a few lures, but we also caught more trout than the other guys fishing next to us that were using shallow running lures and artificial flies. Fabian suggested that the deep diving lures would stir the trout up, which were holding tight to the bottom of some deeper pools. He was right, as the action of the deep divers seem to force the trout into reacting aggressively – resulting in regular hook-ups. We found that the trout would bite ravenously for the first five or so casts before going dormant. So, we constantly changed our lure colour and sometimes profile to keep the bite rolling. It was uncanny how often the first cast after a lure change would score a result! The stand out lure for me was the new Silver Wolf Shad 40 from Daiwa, while Fabian had great success using the Double Clutch 75SP-G and Daiwa Tournament Spike 53SP. Colour didn’t seem to matter too much; however, any lure that had orange on it seemed to get belted more so than any other. We simply casted up-river and cranked our lures back with a rather hasty retrieve. We focussed on fishing the fast-water at the heads of various pools.
Trekking for trout
While it’s not entirely necessary to walk for miles to find spawn-run trout, be prepared to do some hiking if you intend on finding unfished waters. I was amazed upon arrival to a far-away destination only to find four or five anglers already fishing that spot! When trekking, travel light, only taking the essentials. The Trout shoulder bag from Daiwa is a handy accessory, and stows enough lures, leader, implements and a sandwich or two to see you through the session. An absolute necessity is an appropriate jacket. I used the Daiwa Soft Shell Jacket and was impressed with its thermal qualities. The jacket was completely water proof, and kept the 25knots of westerly wind off my bones. It was light on, and enabled me to put in some serious kilometres without overheating or sweating. The air temperature was hovering around 2 degrees during my visit, and I was comfortable with only a long sleeve shirt and thermal singlet underneath my jacket. That said, I would recommend further thermal insulation for anything below this temperature. The other essential item is a pair of waders to allow you to cross the river and open up more angling opportunities.
The spawning season closes on the June long weekend and remains closed until the October long weekend. Fishing the rivers and streams during this time is prohibited, and I recommend that you research the regulations prior to planning a trip to the high country. The months leading up to – and after the season closure dates are the prime-times to hit the streams and rivers; and with the June long weekend fast approaching, I suggest that you make your move and get amongst it
Be sure to carry a selection of Silver Wolf Shad 40s’, as well as some Double Clutches amidst your arsenal…AB